This report on the crisis in affordable housing for the elderly was on a local television news website. You have it to watch it to believe it.
In case the report disappears at some point, here is the complete text:
WESTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Paul Lischetti’s corporation built Westhampton Woods senior housing; affordable income apartments for older people, renting for $600 to $700 per month. He said it is tough getting enough money from the state to build affordable housing, and that the problem is only going to get worse in the coming years.
“15 to 20 years from now, there will be a lot more older people and lower income older people as a percentage of the population,” Lischetti said.
Massachusetts Undersecretary of Housing Aaron Gorenstein assured 22News that his office is doing everything possible to help build affordable apartments like the ones at Westhampton Woods.
“It’s so much more cost effective to do that, than to place someone into a nursing home which is more costly, or even assisted living,” Gorenstein said.
Betty Ann Gould, who lives at Westhampton Woods, she agrees nursing homes can be pricy.
“They did a study: you can stay in a hotel and buy your meals and everything and it’ll be cheaper than staying at a nursing home,” Gould said.
Walter Kress found an apartment at Westhampton Woods after being on waiting list for years. He told 22News that he couldn’t afford any other apartment.
“It’s a thousand dollars and up. I mean who can afford that? I mean It’s affordable to whom? I guess that’s the question,” Kress said.
Westhampton Woods’ Developer, Hilltown CDC, has a similar project in the works in the town of Goshen. They’re struggling to keep pace with the need.-
Here is a snapshot of one of the structures:
and an aerial view of the development:
It’s clear that the development is intended to be affordable and to contribute to the independence of its residents. The image presented by the buildings is clear. They are post war suburban homes on the Levittown model (albeit divided into multiple units) located deep in the New England woods far from the noise and commotion of the city. The average American’s blink response is probably that these units will allow the impoverished elderly a dignified way to live out their golden years in a peaceful, bucolic setting.
On the other hand, this is the development’s Walkscore:
Another way of looking at this development is that it will obligate residents to either own a motor vehicle, at an average cost of at least $7,000 a year, or to find ways, far away from any transit, to get to health services and to have goods and services delivered. Beyond that, the lack of sidewalks even within the development itself forces one to ponder how these people will get any exercise at all. If an emergency occurs and first responders are unable to arrive for an extended period will this homogeneous group of the elderly poor have the resources, physical or mechanical, to do anything to help themselves? What was the cost to run water, sewer, electric, and phone services to these units? Is there any hope at all that the development will be self sustaining as far as road maintenance and maintenance of the aforementioned utilities is concerned? This will be financial catastrophe for the residents themselves and the town in which the development is located.
Compare that to this location as a place to be elderly and poor:
With a Walkscore of 97, a transit score of 60 and multiple options for health services this location provides options for the elderly who wish to remain active and engaged. On a daily basis they will interact with young and old alike, and they will be able to do so on their own without the expense of a car, or the need of reliance on transportation provided by others.
The state is obviously unable to see what a horrific idea it is to isolate the elderly in these cartoon country wastelands. I am one of the people who will become “elderly” in the next twenty years. I hope it will not be my fate to be cast adrift on one of these ice flows of ex-urban sprawl.